From: Campaign to Stop Killer Coke
For more information, contact Pat Clark or Ray Rogers at (718) 852-2808
For Immediate Release, July 17, 2007
The Coca-Cola Company and two of its largest bottlers, Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) and Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated, have been excluded from the list of socially responsible companies prepared by KLD Research & Analytics, Inc. of Boston, Mass., an independent investment research firm that is considered a world leader in defining corporate responsibility standards.
This means that TIAA-CREF's (Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association - College Retirement Equities Fund) $9 billion CREF Social Choice Account, the world's largest socially screened fund for individual investors, will not allow any investments in either The Coca-Cola Co. or the two associated companies.
"For decades, TIAA-CREF has earned a reputation for combining sound common-sense investment practices with a concern for honesty, integrity and social responsibility on the part of corporate policymakers," said Ray Rogers, director of the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke (www.KillerCoke.org). "It is now clearer than ever before that The Coca-Cola Company and Coke bottlers fail to meet the standards that investors have a right to expect."
Last July, when The Coca-Cola Company was dropped from KLD's Broad Market Social Index (BMSI), TIAA-CREF divested 1.25 million shares of stock. The BMSI includes companies within the Russell 3000 Index that perform better than their peers on environmental, social responsibility, corporate governance and human rights matters.
Coca-Cola Co. policymakers lobbied hard to be reinstated into the BMSI this year, but instead suffered another major setback when its two bottling partners along with The Coca-Cola Co., failed to make the BMSI. The CREF Social Choice Account will now have to divest more of its holdings, just as it did last year with The Coca-Cola Company stock.
"Such action by KLD is a very serious matter for any company, but especially for one like Coca-Cola that spends billions falsely promoting itself as socially responsible," said Ray Rogers. "Because of Coke's widespread labor, human rights and environmental abuses and fraudulent business practices, the company has, like tobacco, gambling and firearms companies, become a pariah to those concerned with socially responsible investing."
Top executives and board members of The Coca-Cola Co. and Coca-Cola Enterprises are key policymakers of Coca-Cola FEMSA, Coca-Cola's largest bottler in Colombia, and a defendant in lawsuits charging that Coke bottlers in Colombia collaborated with paramilitary thugs who engaged in the systematic intimidation, kidnapping, torture and murder of union leaders.
In a related development, the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald (6/6/07) reported: "Employers led by a Coca-Cola executive [Director of Global Labor Relations Ed Potter] stopped the [United Nations'] International Labour Organisation examining violations of workplace rights in Colombia..." Potter appears to be working to shield Colombia and Coca-Cola from any real scrutiny at a time when the Colombian government and multinational corporations keep getting unwanted attention for their ties to paramilitary death squads that prey on workers and their unions.
"Coca-Cola's worldwide marketing practices cause tremendous harm to the health of children," Rogers added. "By encouraging youngsters to consume large amounts of soft drinks, Coke condemns an entire generation to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and other serious health problems." The recent announcement that Coke's Sprite brand soda aims to create a "virtual teenager hangout like MySpace and Facebook... on cell phones" to "lure more youngsters to its sodas and flavored drinks"(Wall Street Journal, 6/7/07) makes the company's shamelessness even more apparent. The global brand director for Sprite recently stated: "We know that when it comes to reaching teens, mobile is the medium. This program will enable us to connect with teens by putting Sprite both in their hand and in their phone."
The British newspaper The Independent (6/10/07) reported: "Coca-Cola has enlisted scientific researchers in a bid to convince the world that it is actually a health drink. Despite its long and troubled association with poor diet and dental-hygiene problems, the sweet, fizzy beverage is being analyzed as a possible health drink to combat anemia . . ."
"Even if it could be shown that the ingestion of food with Coke could help absorb iron to combat anemia, the ill effects of Coke's phosphoric acid, sugar/high fructose corn syrup (or aspartame in Diet Coke) and caffeine would far outweigh any benefits," said Ray Rogers.
Coca-Cola Company shareholders are currently suing the company for fraudulent business practices, such as improperly inflating revenues to boost stock price, that they allege have cost them $1.3 billion. Coca-Cola Co.'s "misstatements and omissions caused investors to suffer losses of up to $11.79 per share," according to Steven Feinstein, a former Federal Reserve economist who wrote a 104-page report filed last month in Atlanta federal court.
"While dozens of colleges and universities have become Coke free in protest of Coke's record of labor and human rights abuses and environmental degradation and the CREF Social Choice Account bans investments in Coke, Coca-Cola's CEO E. Neville Isdell ironically portrays the company as a leader in corporate responsibility to audiences around the world," said Rogers.
We are seeking your help to stop a gruesome cycle of murders, kidnappings, and torture of union leaders and organizers involved in daily life-and-death struggles at Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia, South America.
"If we lose the fight against Coca-Cola, we will first lose our union, next our jobs and then our lives." SINALTRAINAL VIce President Juan Carlos Galvis
"We believe the evidence shows that Coca-Cola and its corporate network are rife with immorality, corruption and complicity in murder."
Campaign to Stop Killer Coke/Corporate Campaign, Inc. Director Ray Rogers